‘Outriders’ is perfectly average, making it ideal for Xbox Game Pass

You wouldn't want to pay full price for it, but it's a fun distraction.

People Can Fly/Square Enix

Square Enix might have just found its next big franchise in Outriders. The third-person shooter has become a hit for the publisher (though that hasn't been reflected in royalties for the developer, People Can Fly.) It's easy to see why: the core gameplay is bags of fun, especially when you’re playing with friends.

However, it doesn't quite stick the landing. A by-the-numbers story and limited replayability drag things down a bit. As such, before you pay full price, it might be worth checking out Outriders on Xbox Game Pass first.

You play as an Outrider, an elite soldier who helps prepare another planet for what's left of humanity to colonize it, but something goes drastically wrong. Get past the middling first couple of hours (and some iffy writing and acting), and Outriders kicks into a higher gear once your character becomes mutated. You can select one of four classes, each with their own set of unlockable abilities.

The powers and weapon abilities are a blast to play around with, especially when you team up with a friend and combo your special moves. There are a vast number of potential loadouts and character builds you can run with. You can also switch up your gear, abilities and skill tree at any time. The cover system works well enough, but it's better to play aggressively, since you'll only heal by killing enemies.

People Can Fly/Square Enix

Outriders looks good, with a grimy tone that’s more Gears of War than Destiny. There are a bunch of different biomes, each with a distinct aesthetic, though many parts of levels are just tunnels that funnel you from one encounter to the next. It’s easy to make comparisons with Destiny 2: Both games are futuristic shooters in which you can mow down waves of enemies and constantly hunt for better gear.

Outriders isn’t a live service game, though, nor can you battle other players. It has a focused story, with side missions and endgame challenges you can go on after you finish the campaign. They do get repetitive, though. At a certain point, grinding for better items means little more than seeing higher numbers on your weapon stats and floating above enemies when you attack them. It might have actually been better as an ongoing game with frequent content additions.


Still, there's nothing to lose by checking out Outriders on Xbox Game Pass, where it has been available since its launch day.

For at least the last year or so, there’s been a common refrain about Xbox Game Pass: it’s one of the best deals in gaming. There’s definitely some merit to that, as the service includes a ton of major first-party games, like Microsoft Flight Simulator, as well as Bethesda titles and a bunch of killer indies for a single monthly fee. Offering players easier access to Game Pass on more devices through the cloud sweetens the deal.

Big third-party games are an important aspect of the service as well, including a bunch of EA titles games and, of course, Outriders, which is practically a perfect fit for Game Pass.

Square Enix and People Can Fly deserve props for putting out a lengthy Outriders demo that’s long enough for you to get a good sense of each classes’ powers. If you have Game Pass Ultimate, though, you can keep going without having to pay extra.

Outriders is solid. It's exactly the kind of thing Microsoft could use more of on Game Pass, a fun, big third-party game you might be interested in, but don't want to spend $60 on. Sure, the library has plenty of far better games, but whenever you and a couple of buddies are in the mood for some relatively mindless alien-murdering carnage without having to fire up Destiny 2 yet again, Outriders hits the spot.